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Sympathy Deformed Misguided compassion hurts the poor.
City Journal ^ | City Journal Spring 2010 | Theodore Dalrymple

Posted on 09/12/2010 7:18:35 AM PDT by Inappropriate Laughter

A scramble for rotting fish: decades of foreign aid have not helped Tanzanians.
Randy Olson/National Geographic/Getty Images

To sympathize with those who are less fortunate is honorable and decent. A man able to commiserate only with himself would surely be neither admirable nor attractive. But every virtue can become deformed by excess, insincerity, or loose thinking into an opposing vice. Sympathy, when excessive, moves toward sentimental condescension and eventually disdain; when insincere, it becomes unctuously hypocritical; and when associated with loose thinking, it is a bad guide to policy and frequently has disastrous results. It is possible, of course, to combine all three errors.

No subject provokes the deformations of sympathy more than poverty. I recalled this recently when asked to speak on a panel about child poverty in Britain in the wake of the economic and financial crisis. I said that the crisis had not affected the problem of child poverty in any fundamental way. Britain remained what it had long been—one of the worst countries in the Western world in which to grow up. This was not the consequence of poverty in any raw economic sense; it resulted from the various kinds of squalor—moral, familial, psychological, social, educational, and cultural—that were particularly prevalent in the country (see “Childhood’s End,” Summer 2008).

My remarks were poorly received by the audience, which consisted of professional alleviators of the effects of social pathology, such as social workers and child psychologists. One fellow panelist was the chief of a charity devoted to the abolition of child poverty (whose largest source of funds, like that of most important charities in Britain’s increasingly corporatist society, was the government). She dismissed my comments as nonsense.

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TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: dalrymple

1 posted on 09/12/2010 7:18:39 AM PDT by Inappropriate Laughter
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To: Inappropriate Laughter

Give a man a fish, feed him today.

Teach a man to fish, feed him forever.

Give a man a fish a day, teach him to feel that he deserves free fish forever.

2 posted on 09/12/2010 7:37:22 AM PDT by flowerplough (Thomas Sowell: Those who look only at Obama's deeds tend to become Obama's critics.)
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To: Inappropriate Laughter
The “problem” that the state was solving in its destruction of the voluntary system was its own lack of power over the population.

This line refers specifically to the voluntary sytem of education, but it's just as applicable in any other context.

3 posted on 09/12/2010 7:40:03 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Sigh.)
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To: flowerplough

Teach a man to fish, lose a democratic voter.

4 posted on 09/12/2010 7:54:07 AM PDT by struwwelpeter
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To: Tax-chick
It's the those pesky, unruly citizens who won't do as they're told who are the problem to socialist governments.

Even when the socialist utopia is in place and operating, human beings still look out for their own interests and behave accordingly. Socialism tries to re-engineer human nature, but nature refuses to be engineered. It simply is what it is.

That's why socialist societies must always become totalitarian and police states. It's only a matter of time.

Remember, as Michele O. said, "Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed."

That particular statement of hers sent chills down my spine as it must have others.

5 posted on 09/12/2010 8:23:04 AM PDT by seowulf ("If you write a whole line of zeroes, it's still---nothing"...Kira Alexandrovna Argounova)
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To: seowulf

I remember that, too. I translated it “Barack Obama is a wannabe Stalin.” And I think he is, at heart, but he doesn’t have the energy of a Stalin or Castro. He’s lazy.

6 posted on 09/12/2010 8:53:16 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Sigh.)
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